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Destined to become a classic.

A picture book that invites readers to consider shapes of all kinds.

A lively young child and a grown-up, both of whom present Asian, with beige skin and dark, wavy hair, experience their world in all its forms. Văn’s simple yet evocative verse explores the shapes of tangible, concrete objects like the Earth (“a sphere”), the characters’ front door (“a rectangle”), and their kitchen table (“a square”) as well as the shapes of abstract concepts like thinking (“the shape of thinking is quiet”), friendship (“a dog”), and surprise (“best when it hides what’s inside"). The author trusts young readers to understand such heady material. The grown-up is never far from the child’s side, ready to answer a question or reassure but also encouraging the little one’s curiosity. Sato’s enchanting illustrations craft a recognizable world filled with crayons, toys, a lovable puppy, and more, all made from textured fabrics and other materials that, when sewn together, evoke warmth and love. Striking scenes, like a luminous rose sunset and deep space, with its dark, impenetrable purples, matter as much as a smaller yet equally powerful moment of sadness that leads to a reassuring cuddle. The closeness between the characters enables the child to grow and learn and change—as the book closes, both are confident that “The shape of my love will always be you.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Destined to become a classic. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781525305450

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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